PCG bares CPC of sunken MT Princess Empress


At a glance

    The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) released to the public the Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) of the sunken motor tanker (MT) Princess Empress to contradict reports that the agency allowed the vessel to operate without the necessary permit.

    Rear Admiral Armando Balilo, PCG spokesperson, presented the CPC of MT Princess Empress to the media on Tuesday, March 14. The PCG also uploaded the document online via its official Facebook page, "Philippine Coast Guard."

    According to the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), a CPC is an authorization issued by them to a vessel “for a domestic water transportation service for commercial/public use for which no franchise, either municipal or legislative is required by law.”

    “Apat na beses nang ginamit ito ng nasabing barko sa mga transakyon niya sa Philippine Coast Guard – one in Manila, one in Cebu, one in Misamis Oriental, at isang beses rin sa Iloilo (and one in Iloilo). Pinache-check pa namin ‘yung ibang mga bayan kung saan siya dumaong, kung may inspeksyon na ginawa at kung may sinubmit na CPC (The said vessel has used this [document] for four times already in its transactions with the Philippine Coast Guard. We are still checking what other areas the vessel docked, if there were inspections conducted, and if there was a submitted CPC),” Balilo said in an interview on Wednesday, March 15.

    The document released by Balilo included a MARINA decision dated Nov. 16, 2022 which amended the CPC of RDC Rield Marine Services, Inc., the owner of MT Princess Empress, and allowed the sunken tanker “to effect the permanent addition of the ship/tanker, M/TKR Princess Empress, to the company’s fleet.”

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    “As far as we are concerned, we relied on this document kaya namin pinayagan ‘yung barko na maglayag (As far as we are concerned, we relied on this document that’s why we allowed the vessel to operate),” Balilo said.

    However, the PCG spokesperson said the document will still be subjected to further investigation: “Mayroon na nga kaming nakikita pero iniimbestigahan pa namin, may instruction kahapon na paimbestigahan (We are seeing something but it is still subjected to an investigation, there was an instruction yesterday to investigate).

    “Una parang ‘yung pirma, ano ba ‘to original signed? Tapos ‘yung MARINA ba ay mag-aagree dito? Parang ang initially kasi may denial ang MARINA eh tapos may denial din kahapon ‘yung may-ari ng barko sa Senate na for approval pa ang CPC. Eh ano itong binibigay niyo sa amin kapag naglalayag kayo? (First is the signature, is it original signed? Then will the MARINA agree to it? Initially there was a denial from the MARINA, and there was a denial from the owner of the vessel, too, yesterday in the Senate that their CPC was still up for approval. Then what is it that you’re presenting to us when you are sailing?” Balilo said.

    The move came as MARINA Administrator, lawyer Hernani Fabia, said in a Senate inquiry on Tuesday, March 14, that the agency has yet to issue an amended CPC to RDC Rield Marine Services, Inc. following the recent addition of the MT Princess Empress to its fleet.

    According to RDC Rield Marine Services Inc., the tanker was commissioned in 2022.

    During the inquiry, Fabia said the RDC Rield Marine Services Inc. still has a pending application to MARINA which the agency was supposed to hear. The company, according to Fabia, was still missing documents for their application for an amended CPC to be granted.

    RDC Vice Pres. Fritzie Tee said during the inquiry that their company applied for an amended CPC and submitted all the required documents in November 2022.

    Cleanup efforts

    Meanwhile, a total of 5,603 liters of “oily water mixture” have so far been collected by the PCG as efforts to contain the massive spill affecting Oriental Mindoro and other areas from the sunken MT Princess Empress entered its second week.

    The PCG said that from March 1 to 14, it also racked up 50 sacks of oil-contaminated materials during its offshore oil spill response operations. 

    Offshore oil spill response operation refers to the cleanup done in the vicinity of the affected waters using sea vessels, PCG public affairs officer Joy Diane Gumatay explained.

    Seven hundred liters of such mixture and six sacks of oil-contaminated materials were gathered on Tuesday alone, March 14, by PCG tugboats (MTUG) Lidagat and (MTUG) Titan-1.

    Further, the PCG also collected 1,071 sacks and 22 drums of waste during its shoreline response operations at 13 affected barangays in the municipalities of Naujan, Bulalacao, and Pola in Oriental Mindoro in the same period. 

    Shoreline response operation, on the other hand, pertains to the cleanup operations in the seashore which relies more on manpower, Gumatay said.

    The PCG said 140 sacks of oil-contaminated materials were pulled from the shore on Tuesday alone.

    143K residents affected

    The massive oil spill caused by the sinking of MT Princess Empress on Feb. 28 off Naujan, Oriental Mindoro has already affected 31,497 families or 143,713 individuals in Regions 4B (Mimaropa) and 6 (Western Visayas), the Office of Civil Defense reported on Wednesday.

    The tanker was carrying 800,000 liters of industrial fuel oil when it sank.

    The affected areas include the municipalities of Naujan, Pola, Pinamalayan, Bansud, Bongabong, Roxas, Mansalay, Gloria, and Bulalacao (San Pedro) in Oriental Mindoro; Agutaya and Taytay in Palawan; and Caluya in Antique.